FYI 6.10.2009

Chinese Unaware of Tobacco Risks; More Censorship for Mainland Web Surfers; SinoTech Develops Online Reputation Monitoring Platform; Nickelodeon Creates Chinese SpongeBob SquarePants Site; CSL Launches Mobile TV in Hong Kong

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The vast majority of China's smokers are unaware of the health risks associated with tobacco, according to a report from China's Ministry of Health. Four out of five smokers do not know smoking can lead to a stroke and three out of five aren't aware it causes heart disease. Nearly four in five are ignorant of the role of passive smoking in causing sudden infant death syndrome. The report also says just one-third of Chinese doctors know that smoking causes heart disease.

There are more than 300 million smokers in China, where more than a million people die from smoking-related diseases each year. China leads the world in consumption and production of tobacco products as well as tax revenues from tobacco sales.

Tobacco advertising is severely limited, but China doesn't require the pictorial warnings on cigarette packs that are now common worldwide. Cigarettes, particularly expensive local brands, are commonly given as gifts.

Anti-tobacco campaigners believe that the government is reluctant to require gruesome photos on cigarette packs that are often purchased to give to others, including state and local officials, rather than for personal consumption. Cigarettes are also an important source of income for China's government, generating $62 billion in tax revenue.

An earlier survey of 16,000 people in China found that nine in 10 respondents learned of the illnesses caused by tobacco use only after seeing foreign cigarette packs with graphic warnings.
Computer companies in China will be required to pre-install web-filtering software according to a new government regulation issued by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in the latest effort to control online content.

A statement from the ministry said the decision to filter web content was designed to protect Chinese youth from "unhealthy" information online, primarily pornography. The program is called Green Dam Youth Escort in Chinese.

But it can also be used to censor politically sensitive material, which has raised concerns among international organizations defending freedom of speech as well as western computer makers like Dell and Hewlett-Packard.

Chinese officials have already taken measures to shut down illegal internet cafes and unauthorized web sites in China, including the popular U.S. video site YouTube.

Earlier this month, a few days before the 20th anniversary of the government crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Beijing in 1989, the government blocked social media sites like Twitter, Bing and Flickr. This week, access to most of the sites was restored.
SinoTech Group has launched an online reputation-monitoring platform to provide real-time feedback about brands on Chinese web sites for advertisers, ad agencies and digital PR firms in the mainland. Called SinoReputation, it integrates search, blogging and other activity to garner online sentiments about specific brands expressed on news portals, community forums, blogs, and social media and networking sites.

"Today, there are millions of consumers online; talking about your brands, and expressing their opinions on your products and services without any constraints. It's critical for brands to listen and learn about what is being said," Mathew McDougall, SinoTech Group's Beijing-based chairman-CEO, said.
Nickelodeon has launched a Chinese-language web site, Haimianbaobao.net, featuring its cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants. The Viacom children's channel launched a global, English-language site for the character two months ago.

Like SpongeBob.com, www.haimianbaobao.net will feature SpongeBob SquarePants-related games, event updates, wallpapers, icons, character guides, and widgets.

Site members can also subscribe to a SpongeBob news alert and participate in monthly trivia games and fan art contests to win merchandise.

SpongeBob is a "phenomenon" in China, said Mei Yan, MTV's CEO China and chief representative for Viacom in Asia. The character first appeared in the mainland on China Central Television in 2006, and returned in December 2008 on CCTV's children's channel, where it is the No. 1 program for kids aged 4 to 14 in 15 key cities.
Hong Kong mobile phone service provider CSL Limited has launched a personal entertainment channel for customers of its one2free mobile phone service brand that allows users to watch TV and videos on their mobile phones.

CSL, a subsidiary of Australian telecommunications company Telstra Corp., is the Chinese territory's largest mobile phone service provider. It operates two other service brands, 1010 and New World Mobility, in Hong Kong, which has the highest penetration of mobile phones in Asia.

Customers can access the new service, called "Studio On Demand," through mobile TV and video-on-demand. Mobile TV gives access to real-time television, while the on-demand service has a DVD-like user interface, allowing users to pause, rewind, or forward content.

CSL is promoting the new service with ads by Leo Burnett Worldwide with control as the theme. The campaign features a TV drama aired in three light-hearted mini episodes that each highlight different functions of the new service.


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